Gov. Abbott pushes forward with plan to slowly re-open Texas amid pandemic

Governor Greg Abbott says Texas has one of the lowest coronavirus death rates of any state in the country. So far there have been more than 500 deaths and more than 20,000 cases.

Gov. Abbott said Tuesday recent data shows Texas is in a good position to move forward with slowly re-opening the state with guidance from doctors.

However, some Texas Democrats are expressing concerns the loosening of restrictions may be taking place too soon without adequate testing for Texans.

Abbott insists Texas is continuing to make strides in increasing testing throughout the state, with more than 60 open drive-thru testing sites. Abbott will deploy 1200 Texas National Guard members to various sites throughout the state so that testing capacity is increased to 3,500 per day.

Abbott also says since April 9, when the state had its highest positive tests, the number of deaths, hospitalizations and positive cases have been steady or trending down.

According to the governor, there are also more than 21,000 available hospital beds and more than 8,000 available ventilators. Abbott said the state is well equipped to address healthcare needs for anyone who has COVID-19, and data puts Texas in a good position to start opening back up.

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“If there were any type of aberration, if there were any type of inefficiency in the testing we’re doing, it would be revealed by sudden inexplicable spikes in the number of people being hospitalized or the number of deaths. We’re simply not seeing that. Deaths continue to trend down as do positive tests, and hospitalizations remain flat to sliding down so all the numbers are trending down,” Abbott said.

It’s why Abbott told people Tuesday to apply right now for the half a million jobs that have opened up in the state. In DFW, the finance, aerospace and healthcare industries are hiring.

“High paying, good quality jobs,” Abbott said. “We know that Texans really want to get back to work. It’s in our Texas DNA. There’s been a yearning to work ever since the first day when Texas shut down.”

Retail to go begins Friday in the state, and the governor is announcing more reopenings on April 27th, followed by even more in May.

Texas Democrats and small business stakeholders hosted a conference call on Tuesday to discuss the impact to small businesses of the virus and the levels of testing taking place.

State representatives on the call said there needs to be more financial assistance for small businesses from not only the federal government but from the state as well. They also expressed concerns about opening businesses too soon and not providing adequate plans for widespread COVID-19 testing, noting Texas ranks 49th nationwide in testing.

“Opening up before we’ve had proper measures, such as more testing, adequate testing, would make our storefronts, our front counters of our businesses, big and small, breeding grounds for the virus. We need to open our economy but we need to do so in a way that protects Texans from further hardship,” said Rep. Lorraine Birabil (D-Dallas).

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The governor says there will be two more testing sites in DFW by the end of the week. The testing sites will likely be at the two Walgreen’s sites opening off Buckner in Dallas and Camp Bowie in Fort Worth.